Don’t Send Us AI Art

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Toilet ov Hell’s official stance on the use of artificial intelligence in the art space. Skip to the last paragraph for a TL;DR.

This past week, I was given the opportunity to premiere a music video from an up-and-coming death metal band, who shall remain unnamed in this statement so as not to draw them any undue flak. While the song itself was good, its accompanying video bore the telltale signs of AI-generated artwork. After conferring with the other writers and our friends at Noob Heavy (whose own statement on the matter you can read right here), we came to a unanimous consensus: this shit sucks ass. Going forward, we will not be running premieres or reviews featuring art generated with AI.

AI art’s appeal to smaller independent and underground bands is obvious: generating something from Midjourney in an artist’s style is a hell of a lot cheaper than actually paying that artist a commission, after all. I would hope that it’s also easy for said bands to sympathize with the artists on the other side of this. It can be incredibly hard to get your work out there in any creative field, let alone gaining financial stability from it; you don’t need me to tell you this if you’re in a band yourself. To have someone directly copy your style and present it as their own creation is demoralizing at best and a hard financial blow at worst. This causes direct harm to working artists; even if you buy a piece from an AI “artist,” if that piece was done by training it on someone else’s style, it’s just plagiarism with an automated middleman.

To be clear, this is not a wholesale condemnation of AI art. The technology itself is fascinating, and I’d be lying if I said my friends and I (ToH writers included) didn’t mess around with it from time to time. It can be fun having it generate absurd images, and I’ve even seen artists train it on their own styles and draw over the results it produces as a creative exercise. Hell, I’d even go as far as to say that it could be useful for a band to generate reference images for a piece they would like to commission. All of this is totally fine, but there is a huge difference between producing AI-generated images of CCTV footage of Jesus Christ stealing a bike and generating art in the late Lewandowski’s style for use on a commercial product.

To reiterate, Toilet ov Hell will not be running any features for bands utilizing AI-generated art. The practice is borne almost exclusively on the backs of actual artists, and to take away from them is scummy (and it looks like shit ninety percent of the time anyway). Go ahead and use it for fun, but don’t use it to market your band, and stay the fuck away from selling it. I would like to invite other publications to stand with us and Noob Heavy on this matter in the interest of preserving some level of integrity in at least one aspect of our scene. At the very least, I want you to consider this from an artist’s perspective before you decide to run with an AI image for your next album cover.

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